Bluecoat and National Trust announce Serena Korda co-commission for Liverpool’s Speke Hall
Bluecoat is delighted to be working with award-winning British artist Serena Korda and Trust New Art, the National Trust’s programme connecting people to places through contemporary art. Drawing on her interest in folklore, feminism and the fantastical Korda will create a new work for Speke Hall’s ancient woodland with a smaller related installation in Bluecoat’s courtyard garden.
At Speke Hall visitors are invited to step into a magical environment and experience a new sculptural sound installation, inspired by the fascinating story of hidden rebellions at Speke Hall. The Bell Tree is comprised of a new sound sculpture made up of over 300 porcelain mushroom bells that hang from a giant oak tree, rumoured to be as old as the hall itself.
Inspired by the folklore that surrounds the native bluebells that grow beneath its branches, The Bell Tree celebrates the dark side of the fairy kingdom. This new sculpture comprising ceramics and an audio track explores the spirit of this ancient site and the power of myth embodied in this most protected of English flowers.
Continuing Korda’s fascination in making sounds beyond human hearing audible is reflected in the soundscape that forms part of The Bell Tree (which can be listened to on the National Trust website) which transforms you into a nature spirit. Stand in front of The Bell Tree, watch the bells move in the breeze and then, through listening to the audio on your phone, immerse yourself in the ringing of bluebells played by the bell ringers of Garston St. Michael’s Church. These melodic sounds are accompanied by an angry band of fairies, performed by local choir Mostly Madrigals and a capella group Mouthful.
Artist Serena Korda was awarded the Trust New Art commission for Speke Hall as part of a second Bluecoat partnership with this atmospheric National Trust property – a Tudor Manor House adapted by the Victorians. The first artist was a residency and commission by Alice May Williams in 2016.
The co-commission follows on from Bluecoat’s 300th anniversary programme in 2017, during which its rich heritage as Liverpool’s oldest building and the UK’s first arts centre was celebrated through 300 days of events and activities. The Bell Tree synthesises Bluecoat’s interest in working with artists to open up heritage.
Serena Korda works across performance, sound and sculpture reconsidering aspects of communion and tradition in our lives including under explored feminist narratives – herstories- and the alternative histories of folklore and witchcraft. She was the 2016-17 Norma Lipman & BALTIC Fellow in Ceramic Sculpture at Newcastle University which culminated in a solo exhibition Missing Time at BALTIC 2018. Korda also curated Daughters of Necessity at The Hepworth Wakefield choosing ceramic works from their collection which are sited alongside her own. She recently performed an iteration of Missing Time on The High Line NYC.